Vinny and David (2012-present)

Life and Incarceration of a Family

“Vinny and David” begins with Vinny, then 13, when he was incarcerated for stabbing his mother’s assailant, and shadows him and his older brother, David, age 19; the long-term photo essay focuses on the brothers’ lives in their family, community and respective incarcerations over six years in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The photo reportage also shadows their mother, Eve; her two younger children, Elysia and Michael; David’s girlfriend, Felicia, their two children, Lily and Mary Jane; Vinny’s girlfriend, Krystle, and his daughter, Jordyn.

In early 2012, I saw Vinny in the booking section of the juvenile detention center in Albuquerque. I soon learned that Vinny was incarcerated for stabbing the man who was assaulting his mom. In the motel room where they lived, Vinny, age 13, was cutting food to make for his two younger siblings, Elysia and Michael, as Eve, their mom, argued with a family friend, Jessie, about borrowing $70 to bond her eldest son and Vinny’s brother out of jail. Jessie exploded in anger and began to beat Eve to the ground. “When my mom was being beat up,” Vinny says, “I didn’t know what to do. I am tired of seeing my mom get hurt.” In juvie, he was only able to visit with his mom. Sitting with him, he spoke continually about his brother, “my brother is a dope seller. He’s not good and not bad, I love my brother more than anything in the world.”  While in juvenile detention, Vinny’s older brother, David, age 19, is incarcerated in the adult county jail for the first time in 2012. He has since been incarcerated eight times for aggravated assault, for which he was deemed not guilty; distribution of marijuana; and car theft. David, who was introduced to drug dealing at age ten by his father, has been in and out of juvenile and adult correctional settings. Since 2012, David has been under government surveillance programs, including the pretrial system and probation.After being separated from his family by the courts from 2012 through 2014, Vinny left his aunt’s house in Northern New Mexico. He moved move in with his brother, Felicia, David’s girlfriend, and their two children, dreaming of a renewed family. Vinny, now 19, has a 2-year-old daughter named Jordyn.

Vinny and David have grown up in an environment of loss and violence yet yearn for love and connection. In the midst of turmoil, Vinny and David try to embrace their youth. Vinny describes David as a father figure, and David views Vinny as the only person who appreciates him.